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Men's Match of the Decade No. 2: Djokovic d. Nadal, 2012 Aussie Open

Men's Match of the Decade No. 2: Djokovic d. Nadal, 2012 Aussie Open

Seven years later, this final—won by the Serb, 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7 (5), 7–5—stands as a monument to the quality, and the quantity, of tennis in this era.

Big Three. Big ballers. Big scores. The 2010s were defined by giant-sized contents on the men's side, which we'll review over the next two weeks.

See the entire men's and women's lists here, and relive each match with our video retrospectives.


“We took the last drop of energy we had from our bodies,” Novak Djokovic said when the 2012 Australian Open finally ended, nearly six hours after it began.

He wasn’t exaggerating. Halfway through the trophy ceremony, chairs had to be fetched for Djokovic and the man he had beaten, Nadal; neither could stand for another second.

They had played the longest major final of the Open era, and the longest singles final in Australian Open history. Point for point, this may not have been the best of their 52 matches, but it was their first and still biggest epic. It was a 15-round fight and a marathon all in one. In its sustained ferocity, its mix of the brutal and beautiful, the match encapsulated the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry, as well as the excellence and excess of this era. Not everyone was enamored of its length—today’s shot clock can be traced back to this never-ending evening.


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Nadal had been so determined to win that he had dropped to his knees after coming back to take the fourth set. But Djokovic weathered Rafa’s storm, then won five of the last six games for the title.

“That was a really special match,” Nadal said, “and probably a match that’s going to be in my mind not because I lost, no, but because the way that we played.”

Seven years later, this final stands as a monument to the quality, and the quantity, of tennis in this era.